Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India

Madhur Jaffrey, Author . Knopf $25 (297p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4295-1

The celebrated actress and author of several books on Indian cooking turns her attention to her own childhood in Delhi and Kampur. Born in 1933 as one of six children of a prosperous businessman, Jaffrey grew up as part of a huge "joint family" of aunts, uncles and cousins—often 40 at dinner—under the benign but strict thumb of Babaji, her grandfather and imperious family patriarch. It was a privileged and cosmopolitan family, influenced by Hindu, Muslim and British traditions, and though these were not easy years in India, a British ally in WWII and soon to go though the agony of partition (the separation and formation of Muslim Pakistan), Jaffrey's graceful prose and sure powers of description paint a vivid landscape of an almost enchanted childhood. Her family and friends, the bittersweet sorrows of puberty, the sensual sounds and smells of the monsoon rain, all are remembered with love and care, but nowhere is her writing more evocative than when she details the food of her childhood, which she does often and at length. Upon finishing this splendid memoir, the reader will delight in the 30 "family-style" recipes included as lagniappe at the end. Photos. (Oct. 11)

Reviewed on: 08/14/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
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Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-1-84632-298-3
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